Jeff Hanisch/USA TODAY
It was a small moment in Monday's game brought up by the Mavericks broadcaster when talking about the Magic. There are a lot of "two-way" players on this roster. That is, players who can play mutliple positions and defend multiple positions.
The Magic have had a dearth of these players in the latter years of the Dwight Howard-era. In a lot of ways, it was part of the team's downfall as the team committed much of its salary to players who could do only one thing. When they could not do that thing anymore, the team floundered.
Part of the rebuilding Rob Hennigan has done is rebuilding this versatility and getting players that are somewhat interchangeable. It is also a big part of the growing trend in the NBA. The so-called position-less movement. The Magic are embracing tht to some extent.
"I think versatility is becoming more and more in vogue as traditional postiions may not be as concrete," Rob Hennigan said. "I think the more versatile you can be, the better you are prepared for anything that gets thrown at you."
The preseason has been much of an experiment of different combinations and players at different positions. Tobias Harris has played almost exclusively at small forward and on the perimeter. Kyle O'Quinn has logged some time at power forward. Then there is the grand Victor Oladipo experiment at point guard.
It all points toward the belief that successful teams need guys who can play multiple positions and defend multiple positions. It helps set up more favorable matchups and even hide defensive shortcomings if players can switch on picks along the perimeter.
So far it is certainly an adjustment, but it is something players like Tobias Harris have prepared for. He said he is willing and ready to play whatever position Jacque Vaughn wants him to play. He is capable and comfortable to play either forward position.
"I feel like in the NBA now, it kind of depends on what other teams are doing," Harris said. "If the other team is playing a power forward or a stretch-4, you have to adjust to what they are doing. But at the same time, the way I see the game going now, not that it's small ball, but guys are being able to play different positions on the basketball court."
That makes the work the players did this offseason so important. Andrew Nicholson developing a 3-point shot helps the team expand what it can do offensively. Harris and Harkless improving their 3-point shooting allows the Magic to play the two together in dynamic lineups.